.... or so I thought …
until I found this pillow in a pricey gift shop in Newport, Rhode Island. At first, I was stunned and incredulous of who could have stolen my dear grandfather’s line! But after I did some research, I was humbled to learn that this was a common Armenian wedding toast given by the best man.
Nonetheless, Gramps believed it was important to never go to bed angry with a loved one and was the peacekeeper of the strong female matriarchy who dominated our family. I grew up wanting to marry a man as wonderful, light-hearted, and family oriented as my dear Gramps. While having a very high standard to reach, my husband of 17 years has been up for the challenge, and I believe is being smiled upon with grace and blessings of my grandfather.
In honor of my 17th wedding anniversary today to my beloved husband, Jim, I decided to devote this blog to learning and sharing three of the rich traditions of an Armenian wedding with my readers.
Literally and symbolically, “MAY YOU GROW OLD ON ONE PILLOW", or “meg bardzi vra tseranas” is a wish and often a toast from the best man to the bride and groom for a long and happy life together. It is one example of how the Armenian language is enriched with unique expressions which may lose that special nuance in translation.
While recently researching what weddings were like a hundred years ago in Worcester, MA; I had the honor and privilege of meeting Digin (Mrs) Piloon Agazarian. Pauline, as she is affectionately known, was born in 1922 and grew up with parents who were caretakers of Armenian Church of our Saviour, the first Armenian church in America. As a result, she attended all the weddings as a little girl and was able to educate me on many traditions. She reminded me of the tradition of blessing brides with henna. I was intrigued and researched further.
The henna party took place at the home of the bride-to-be given by the women of her family and her friends, usually on the Thursday or Friday before the wedding. The honor of mixing and applying the henna to the bride’s hand was reserved for the Yeretzgin, wife of the priest. Henna was applied only to fingernails with simple designs, such as a crescent, on the back of hands. After both hands were hennaed, the bride was given presents of clothes, slippers, and a large, decorated candle. On this evening, girls sang and danced. Henna was applied by older women to the fingers of young girls.
THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY MATRIMONY
The Armenian wedding rite is one of the most beautiful and meaningful traditions of the Armenian church. The church’s origins of the rituals date back to 301AD when Armenia became the first nation to officially adopt Christianity as its state religion. While each act performed during the service has special meaning and significance, the “crowning” is considered central to the wedding service. The crowns are symbols of the Glory and Honor with which God crowns the bride and groom during the sacramental blessing. They become King and Queen of their kingdom – their home – where they rule with love, wisdom, and integrity. The best man will hold the cross over the heads of the bridal couple.
Pictured here is “the crowning” at our wedding held at Saint Asdvadzadzin (Holy Mother of God) Armenian Church in Whitinsville, Massachusetts.
OF THE HUNDREDS OF ARMENIAN WEDDING TRADITIONS TO HONOR, WHY DID I FOCUS ON THESE?
Well... you’ll just have to wait for my book to be released to find out! :)
WHAT ARE YOUR MOST BELOVED WEDDING TRADITIONS?
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